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Citrus ID


Curry Leaf




Bai Karee, Daun Kari, Karapincha, Kari Patta, Karuvepila, Katneem, Kitha Neem, Meetha Neem, Pyim Daw Thein (sec. Cottin 2002); Chalcas koenigii (L.) Kurz, Murraya foetidissima Teijsm. & Binn. (sec. Swingle and Reece 1967)

Cultivar or taxon


Bergera koenigii L. (sensu Bayer et al. 2009); Murraya koenigii (L.) Spreng. (sensu Swingle and Reece 1967; sensu Tanaka sec. Cottin 2002)



Crown compact or dense, not weeping. First-year twig surface pubescent; second- or third-year twig surface mottled; thorns absent or not persistent; prickles absent or not persistent. Petiole pubescent, length medium; wings absent. Leaflets greater than seven, margin bluntly toothed or serrate/serrulate, rachis wings absent, shade leaflet blades flat or weakly conduplicate, sun leaflet blades weakly conduplicate. Scent of crushed leaflets spicy or peppery or somewhat to strongly malodorous. Fruit as broad as long or longer than broad; rind black or red or pink; rind texture smooth (1-3); firmness membranous; navel absent; flesh red/purplish-tinged.

Swingle and Reece (1967) provided the following additional notes on the species:

"Kurz (1877, vol. 1, p. 190) described this species as follows: "An evergreen tree, 15-20 ft. [4.6-6.1 m] high, trunk 4-10 ft. [1.2-3 m] high, 1/2-1 1/2 ft. [15-46 cm] in circum., glabrous or slightly puberulous; leaves unpaired-pinnate, the rachis usually more or less pubescent, rarely quite glabrous; leaflets in 5-10 pairs with an odd one, on a short puberulous petiolule, oblong-lanceolate or ovate, almost falcate, oblique at base, about 1-1 1/2 in. [2.5-3.8 cm] long, acuminate, more or less serrulate, membranous, glabrous, except on the midrib, which is often puberulous; flowers small, white, in terminal corymbs; petals oblong-lanceolate, acute, about 2-3 lin. [4-6 mm] long; stamens 10, alternately shorter; ovary 2-celled, the style short and thick; berries oblong, somewhat acute, the size of a small pea, l-2-seeded, bluish-black."

This species was said by Trimen (1893, vol. 1, p. 219) to be "extremely like the small-leaved form of Micromelum pubescens [= M. ceylanicum], from which it may be distinguished by its more numerous more pubescent and small leaflets, and more compact corymbose terminal inflorescence." The pistil is much shorter than the stamens."



Swingle and Reece (1967) additionally noted that:

"Dr. David Fairchild reported (Bur. Pl. Ind., Inventory 88, No. 68351 ) that "the fresh leaves form a constant ingredient of the Ceylonese curries and give them a very agreeable flavor." He stated further (1930, p. 284) that the fresh leaves of this species are "deemed essential to all the curries of Ceylon." They are "boiled with the curry but thrown out of it before serving." Dr. Fairchild had a fine fruiting tree of M. koenigii growing in his tropical garden, "The Kampong," at Coconut Grove, Florida, where it was one of the most prized of his collection of citrus fruits and their wild relatives (see fig. 3-8). He regularly used the fresh leaves in making curry.

Trimen stated (1893, vol. 1, p. 221): "This is the familiar 'curry-leaf,' a constant ingredient in curries and mulligatawny." He reported the species as rather rare in the wild state in Ceylon but "very much cultivated," doubtless for use in curries.

Dr. David Fairchild obtained seeds of this species in 1926 in Ceylon. Plants grown from this seed have thrived on the peculiar soil (a very sandy loam intermixed with porous limestone fragments of rock that often occupy half or more of the bulk of the soil) found in Miami and vicinity in the extreme southeastern part of Florida."

Additionally, Swingle and Reece (1967) noted that M. koenigii is also referred to as karapincha .



Bayer, R.J., D.J. Mabberley, C. Morton, C.H. Miller, I.K. Sharma, B.E. Pfeil, S. Rich, R. Hitchcock, and S. Sykes. 2009. A molecular phylogeny of the orange subfamily (Rutaceae: Aurantioideae) using nine cpDNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 96: 668–685.

Cottin, R. 2002. Citrus of the World: A citrus directory. Version 2.0. France: SRA INRA-CIRAD.

Fairchild, D. G. 1930. Exploring for plants. The Macmillan Co., New York. 591 pp.

Kurz, S. 1877. Forest flora of British Burma. Supt. of Gov't Publishing, Calcutta. 2 vol. (Rutaceae, 1: 184–199).

Mabberley, D.J. 1997. A classification for edible Citrus (Rutaceae). Telopea 7: 167–172.

Swingle, W.T. and P.C. Reece. 1967. The botany of Citrus and its wild relatives. In: Reuther, W., H.J. Webber, and L.D. Batchelor (eds.). The Citrus industry. Ed. 2. Vol. I. University of California, Riverside.

Trimen, H. 1893. A handbook of the flora of Ceylon. Dulae & Co., Ltd., London. (Rutaceae, 1: 213–229 and Suppl. [1931], pp. 36–41)



Search for this cultivar in NCBI Entrez or NCBI Nucleotide

Additional information on this cultivar at University of California: Riverside Citrus Variety Collection


Citrus ID Edition 2
October, 2011